22 Jun Morocco | Al Attarine Fez

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A 10 mins walk to Madrasa ended up taking us 2 hours.

I initially planned to navigate Medina without hiring a guide while most other tourists would choose this option. It’s very easy to hire an official guide through hotel but I was taking chance that I could manage myself. I have an app called Livetrekker which tracks where I go, similar to leaving bread crumbs along the way and in case you get lost, you can find the way back.

I checked the map for many times and we knew Al Attarine was not far from our Riad, at most 10 mins away. We were out and made our first turn, we met the first hustler we encountered in Morocco.

Hustler A – a young guy was asking us where were we going and following us even though we didn’t answer him a thing. He tried so hard to figure out our destination.

“Are you going to Tannery? Medina? Shops?”…..

He kept distracting us to the point and I found myself not knowing my way to the destination anymore.

What the Hell…was the message I had in my ears. The very last thing I shouldn’t do was to bring out the phone and check our current location, we would probably be robbed.

Hustler B – another young guy came to interrupt and tell us Hustler A was lying. He knew the proper way to Medina. Again we didn’t even bother speak to him also.

My instinct was to follow Hustler B to see where he’s going…and hope somehow we would see the Medina along the way.  At the end he was trying to show us a tannery upstairs.

Because we only made 1 turn from the Riad, we just turn our back and ran all the way back to Riad.

My blood pressure was so high and I was so angry about myself not able to make our way through. The Riad manager asked if I would like a mint tea to calm down.

We can see from the camera in the control room if there’s hustler wandered in front of the hotel door, the manager would actually go out immediately to keep them away from the hotel entrance. He knew the hustlers were targeting the tourists staying here.

Damn it I was not going to let the hustlers to ruin my trip. Will was very considering and studying the map very hard. He was assured he knew his way to Souk (the Market). In fact if we didn’t let the hustlers distract us, the Medina was around the corner at the end of the street.

The second time we didn’t slow down, we memorized all the turns (actually there might be 2-3 turns only) and made it straight to Medina. Fez Medina is a world’s largest car free market and UNESCO heritage site. Right, you may relate to the market in Aladdin. We started seeing tons of people, shops, donkeys, lots of street cats meow…As long as we walked fast, hustlers couldn’t come close to us.

Not sure how we did it, but we finally made our way to University of Al Quaraouiyine – the world’s oldest university. Only Muslim could enter so the gentlemen at the entrance kindly told us we could only take a picture but not allowed to go inside.

Right after 2 sec we got turned down to go inside, there’s another sincere old man told us there’s a way we could peek into the University from rooftop. I didn’t know why I wanted to find out if that’s true or not so we did follow his way until there’s another young man jumping in and trying to lead us to a shop.

It’s a scam!!!! And it made me feel so stupid and furious, I couldn’t trust anyone on the street anymore.

I felt quite hopeless at that moment and went back to the same gentleman who guarded at the University’s entrance. I showed him my map and he pointed me to next door – the Al Attarine Madrasa.

Al Attarine Madrasa was designed to be like an extension to University of Al Quaraouiyine.

Once we entered the Madrasa, we instantly brought to a different world which seems to be completely isolated from all those chaos outside. It’s quiet, spiritual and calm. Because we didn’t have a guide with us like anyone else did and only got like 15mins to stay, we spent a lot of time here and waited until we had the place all by ourselves. The Madrasa was in pristine condition and it’s breathtaking in every single aspect. Forgot to mention it’s built in 1325, you can do the math but it’s old…very very old. The tile work (Zellij), carved stucco and wooden frames truly adorn walls and floors in the courtyard. There’s no blank space in the entire courtyard, all surfaces were filled by intricate work of art.

Al Attarine Madrasa is located at the edge of Souk Al Attarine (spice and perfume market) and takes the name because of its proximity. We didn’t enjoy market shopping on our first day. After the visit to Madrasa, we followed the “breadcrumbs” from Livetrekker and went straight back to hotel. That app was our lifesaver because most GPS wouldn’t work in narrow streets of Medina. The app won’t be 100% accurate but it’s good enough for us to follow the main directions back.

Hustlers were mainly wandering around small streets off the main strip. It’s not possible to avoid them completely, but I suggest you just ignore and avoid eye contact with them. They would keep follow you for a little while.  Don’t look back but keep walking…. As funny as it sounds, they often go away once you are heading to the right direction (ie towards Medina or other big attraction). They would only hustle you when you don’t seem to know your direction or you start taking the map out from your pocket.

Another trick I learn from backpackers is to bring a Go Pro with you. Unlicensed guide is illegal in Morocco and the footage is the solid evidence to prove that if they are trying to give you unwanted assitance. Hustlers will be less likely to target tourists who carry a video taping device. I haven’t tried it myself but in case you will be vlogging about your trip, tell me if this trick works for you.

#跟著矛盾去旅行 第三篇 之 《飲杯薄荷茶定驚》

與人建立信任需要時間,要破壞卻很容易。同摩洛哥人第一次交手,連基本信任都還沒建立的時候,已經先入為主地抱著懷疑態度。

就算之前做幾多準備功夫都好,到最後遇到難搞既摩洛哥男人騷擾,我還是沒法鎮定。

本來一段只需10分鐘路程結果要兩小時才去到。

本身打算先自己去Medina市集,覺得可以慢慢行,先不考慮請當地導遊,反正隨時酒店都可以安排。本身Fez最重要的景點 University of Al Quaraouiyine 離我們酒店步行只需十分鐘而已。

我們出門口大概不到一分鐘,第一個騙子男人A已經出現。不停問我們從那裡來,然後不停旁敲側擊我打算去那裡。我當時覺得好煩,心裡已經不停講 “唔好阻住晒啦“。 但因為個男人不停跟住,我都開始為了避開他而偏離本身要行的路線。兩三分鐘過後依然死纏,突然之間有個男人B走出來,叫我們跟他行,說男人A是騙人的,我心想 “鬼唔知你兩個都唔方好人”。當時為了逃離男人A的死纏爛打,試下跟男人B走,後來B一開始走入暗巷,我同老公兩個拔足狂跑返酒店。其實我們從頭到尾只不過轉了一個彎而已。

我要飲杯薄荷茶定驚。。。

後來我在發現原來酒店外面出面裝了鏡頭,一有可疑人物出入,經理就會走出去講數,所以我們都是轉了角才開始遇到騙子。

我手機安裝了一個APP Livetrekker ,用途是紀錄我們走過的地方。返到酒店我開返出來,原來市集離我們剛才被纏繞的地方很近,基本上再上前行多一分鐘就到了。我立時覺得非常憤怒,覺得自己為什麼出不到去。。。

第二次我們再嘗試,今次我們翻覆記住要行的方向,最重要是不能停下來,不到兩分鐘我們已經到達了Medina。

一走入Fez Medina市集 ,你會見到兩旁商店,周圍都是人,還有驢仔。。。嘩好似回去了幾百年前“阿拉丁”一樣。但我們沒有時間停下來,一直終於走到我們第一個目的地 University of Al Quaraouiyine -全世界歷史最悠久的大學。 守在門口的伯伯見到我們,指手畫腳同我們講不能入去,除非你是教徒才可以。一講完我們打算走,後面又有另一個伯伯話帶我們上去天台,可以望到大學裡面。 我們並未為意,跟了伯伯行去對面,當伯伯指我們上去的時候,有個年輕人走出來,我都猜到是什麼回事了,又是來騙我們去買東西。算了我們又走回去大學門口,因為覺得最安全。那個守門口的伯伯非常好,走來叫我們到隔壁的Al Attarine Madrasa,那裡應該是我們要去的地方。

Al Attarine Madrasa其實是大學加建的部分,1325年建成,已經700多年歷史了。一進去除了嘩還是嘩,其實範圍不大的,但成個建築有種攝人的氣派。整個內院每一幅牆,每一處地面,木門框等等都分別用上摩洛哥特有雕刻同瓷磚裝飾的。我們在這裏逗留了很久,慢慢摸下每一塊磁磚,有些牆面是刻著經文的,就算我們沒有信仰,也可以感受到這裏的莊嚴, 跟外面的熱鬧形成很大對比啊。大概就是我們沒有導遊跟著,所以我們才可以慢慢自己欣賞,不需要“到此一遊”式般遊覽。

完成這個景點後我們先回酒店休息一下。同樣這次我們根據Livetrekker 的路線成功返回去。這可是我們的救命恩app 啊。我比大家的建議就是不要跟路人有眼神接觸,一旦有人纏上,不要理他,通常他們都有幾個同黨,但市集大街他們通常都下不到手的,所以如果你怕他們騷擾就盡量不要離開商店大街。還有我發現他們是故意叫你行錯的方向,因為這樣他們才有機會帶你路,然後問你拿酬勞。一般只要你清楚方向繼續行,他們覺得你知道正確方向,自自然就會消失的。

另外有個辦法是一個背包客教我的,他說如果有GoPro這類器材記得放在身上,因為摩洛哥其實是保障遊客的,如果你拍到有當地人騷擾你,你是可以當證據入他們罪的。所以他們一般都寧願棄難取易,選擇其他人入手。

2 Comments
  • Brillante interiors
    Posted at 09:56h, 28 August Reply

    Images are beautiful. What a trip. Hustlers are in many countries and should be discouraged and ignored. Just a small price to pay for being in enchanting places

    • vivi
      Posted at 13:29h, 04 September Reply

      You are absolutely right. I think to us it’s more like a culture shock more than anything else. When we were in Marrakech, we got completely used to and could say NO to hustlers comfortably. Morocco is such an inspiring country to visit and it wouldn’t stop us for coming back once again.

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